Oil change and a visit to Mercia Marina

| 3 min read

Today was the day for the first service on the Barrus Shire 50 engine and gearbox.

Specifically, the gearbox oil needs to be changed after 25 hours. While I'd participated in a great course at the Narrowboat Skills Centre on boat engine maintenance, the reality of tackling this myself on a new engine, and not messing it up, was a little daunting. So I'd booked in with Streethay Wharf Engineering, who are based in Lichfield but also have on-site facilities at Mercia Marina which is where I was heading, and where I'd approximately be when the engine hour count reached 25.

Getting into the marina

At just after 0730 I quietly moved off my mooring on the Trent & Mersey Canal where I'd spent the night. Here's a snap of the view from the stern of my boat that evening.

My mooring the previous night, on the Trent and Mersey Canal

The mooring was just before the entrance to the marina, into which I carefully and slowly manoevered, backing onto the first pontoon, one of a few that Streethay use there. I didn't do too badly, there was plenty of space in front for me to turn to port before reversing.

on the mooring at Streethay Engineering in Mercia Marina

I waited a while for the engineer to come by; there was a mix up at the office, and that, combined with the general concept of "canal time" (things will happen when they happen) meant that I had to gently persuade them to honour the agreed morning time for the service.

While I waited I took the opportunity to empty my toilet cassettes in an Elsan facility there, and fill up my water tank. I even scrubbed down the roof, bow and stern. Always something to do!

The oil change

David from Streethay came by around 1130 and I asked if he would mind if I watched what he did. He was superb, and we had a great chat while he changed the gearbox oil. I watched him intently and am confident that I could do it myself next time. Here's what he did:

  • Remove the bolt on the side of the oil pump
  • Remove the gold coloured nut from the top of the gearbox enclosure
  • Position a container underneath the hole now on the side of the oil pump
  • Pump out the existing oil into the container
  • Measure the amount of oil pumped out, and then dispose of it
  • Replace the bolt on the side of the oil pump
  • Replace with the same amount of new oil, into the gearbox enclosure
  • Double check the oil level with the dipstick
  • Replace the nut

the gold nut has a dipstick / level indicator attached

The oil David used was Comma's "Gear Oil EP80W-90 GL-4 Mineral" (marked GBP 10.00 per litre) and approximately 1.5 litres were replaced.

gearbox oil

Moving into a visitor mooring

After that it was time to head over to a visitor mooring spot in the marina. I'd previously booked a week on a visitor mooring with Mercia Marina but circumstances had conspired to prevent me from making it. However the lovely Jules, who works in the office, had kindly agreed to credit those days to my account, which was great.

I had agreed with Jules to take three of the seven days I had credit for, and she assigned me a mooring at Egret 15, finger pontoon position 15 in the "Egret" area which is specifically for 57' boats.

To get to the "Egret" area I had to navigate through a large part of the marina. This was quite daunting, given the number of folks walking up and down the boardwalk, and others watching as they drank their coffee in the cafes that overlooked he water. I took it super slowly, alternating between forward gear and neutral to introduce some extra slow forward motion; steering only works when the propeller is pushing water past the rudder though, so the neutral gear sections were quite short! Anyway, I move the boat into the "Egret" area, and used a combination of forward and reverse movements to gently and slowly back onto the finger pontoon. And I managed it, without any bumps, scrapes, or other collisions, pulling the boat down the pontoon manually with the centre rope for the last part. Phew!

Can you spot FULLY RESTFUL in there? It looks rather diminutive next to its neighbours!

moored on Egret 15

I explored the marina which is rather large and which has plenty of facilities, including multiple blocks each with toilets, showers and laundry.

There were also refuse areas for general waste and rubbish for recycling. I took advantage of every single one of those facilities. I was very impressed with the organisation and cleanliness. Given the price of a visitor mooring (GBP 15.00 per day, reduced to GBP 13.00 per day for a week, which is what I'd originally booked), it's pretty good value.

That said, laundry was extra - I had pay a deposit for a credit card sized device and load money onto it, but the wash and dry cycles were reasonable (GBP 3.50 for a wash, GBP 1.20 for a dry). I also had to pay a GBP 20.00 deposit for a key fob which gave me access to all the non-public areas of the marina.

I slept soundly yet again. I think the open air and floating home suits.